Saturday 17 April 2021
  • :
  • :

Katjavivi chooses Swapo over Namibia

Should the speaker of parliament be impartial? Should he or she ceremoniously distance him or herself from the party he or she belongs in order to avoid a perception of bias and unfairness?
Or should the speaker serve in a partisan capacity to advance the interests and political agenda of the majority party in parliament in order to promote the interests of the majority of voters? Should the speaker use his or her power to shield the members of the executive from the partisan attacks and questions from the opposition?
These are some of the questions that have been raised after parliamentary activities were set aside several times during the Swapo congress campaign to allow Swapo members to traverse the country canvassing for support from congress delegates.
The Rally for Progress and Democracy(RDP) this week accused the Speaker of the National Assembly, Professor Peter Katjavivi, of repudiating his parliamentary duties every time Swapo directs him to do otherwise.
RDP lawmaker Mike Kavekotora wants Katjavivi “to really demonstrate his independence in fact and in appearance.”
According to Kavekotora, twice in a span of two weeks, the speaker adjourned parliament citing unforeseen circumstances.
Right at the start of November, Katjavivi adjourned parliament to allow Swapo parliamentarians to go and campaign for Team Harambee in Gobabis. “Surely that was not an unforeseen circumstance,” he said.
He further stated that on 14 November Katjavivi once more adjourned parliament.
“Katjavivi did this knowing very well that that time is running out and parliament must convene to finish bills tabled especially the Appropriation Amendment Bill.  To everyone’s surprise, we received an SMS in the evening of the same day that parliament has been suspended until the 21st November again due to unforeseen circumstances. Almost the whole week of the 14th, text messages were circulated from the Speaker’s office to remind all members to attend parliament without fail on Tuesday, 21 November and Wednesday 22 November due to “very urgent matters relating to the National Budget.” He narrated.
But surprisingly and despite the assurance that parliament would convene, the Speaker notified lawmakers that that parliament stands adjourned until next week(28 November).
“These actions by the Speaker are worrisome and detrimental to parliamentary functions of oversight and scrutiny. I cannot recall when last we had a meeting of Standing Rules and Orders, a very crucial committee for the proper functioning of parliament. Notwithstanding the fact that the Speaker failed to convene meetings on several occasions, he has the audacity to call for reports of Standing Committees knowing very well that Standing Committees only submit reports once approved by the Standing Rules and Orders Committee,” lamented Kavekotora. He also indicated that he was disappointed in the fact that the Speaker chose to allow Swapo’s business taking precedence over the national interest.
“On the 13th November the Minister of Finance requested for a meeting with leaders of opposition parties in parliament pleading with us to shorten our discussion on the Bill due to time constraints. We heeded to his request in the interest of the public just to be shocked of the sudden adjournment,” he revealed.
Kavekotora said it is about time for the Katjavivi to make up his mind as to where his allegiance lies.
“If the Speaker’s interest is to promote Swapo at all cost and to the detriment of parliament, then he must simply resign from parliament and take up a full time position at Swapo Headquarters. Parliament needs someone who can stand up for parliament and whose main purpose is to protect and promote the interest of parliament without fear or favour,” charged a combative Kavekotora.
The RDP secretary general said parliament needs a person who would ensure that the business of parliament continue uninterrupted, adding that: “This trend of the Speaker of the National Assembly standing up for Swapo has gone too far.”
Additionally I am now convinced that this notion of having the executives in parliament need to be revisited. It is not the ideal situation and compromise the constitutional provision of the three pillars of the state and the separation of power for checks and balances.
Leader of the Official Opposition McHenry Venaani also shared similar sentiments and urged the ruling, going forward, to hold their Congress at a time that does not affect the work of parliament.
“We understand they must have their congress, but the planning needs to improve. It must be done in a manner that is not conflicting with the operations of parliament,” he said.
Venaani also indicated that the current situation creates a perception that the affairs of Swapo are more important than those of parliament.
“Lawmakers were elected to represent the interests of the public but now it seems Swapo is more important than parliament, and it looks as if the citizens are getting second-class service. The cost to government that is associated with congress is also a concern,” said the Popular Democratic Movement president.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *